The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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Poetry Out Loud contest encourages young performers

Jane Burkhardt
In Xavier’s Grubb Lecture hall, Soledad Tumialán ‘27 gives a passionate performance of her selected poem. In preparation for the contest, participants memorized two poems and chose one to deliver to the judges in the Xavier-wide competition.

With over 1,200 poems to choose from on the Poetry Out Loud website, many Xavier students look forward to selecting two to memorize for the school poetry recitation contest. The top three winners advance to the state-wide competition at Arizona State University.  

Poetry Out Loud is a program that aims to get more students involved in the understanding and study of poetry. It offers materials necessary to participate in its annual “Poetry Out Loud” poetry recitation competition. 

Senior Joslyn Jenkins was Xavier’s first place winner the last school year. “Getting congratulatory texts from friends gave me so much confidence, especially knowing how hard I worked for it,” said Jenkins.  

Jenkins takes inspiration from her brother who won the same contest at Brophy a couple years back. “At home, whatever he did, I wanted to do,” she said. 

Jenkins also explains that poetry can ignite passion for topics that people didn’t know they could be interested in. This competition encouraged her to consider majoring in public policy. 

English teacher Dr. Clay Zuba has helped to judge Xavier’s Poetry Out Loud contest for the past seven years. He believes students should participate because it gives them an “opportunity to engage with poetry through performance.”

Zuba believes that performing a poem can deepen a student’s personal relationship with a poem.   

When judging contestants, Zuba looks for poise and comfort. He is able to tell how comfortable a competitor is with presenting a poem through body language. Zuba believes that speaking with confidence and clarity are what makes a student stand out.      

While Jenkins acknowledges that having confidence in a crowd is difficult, she also understands that this competition can break people out of their shells. “A lot of people our age struggle with public speaking. But, being able to memorize a poem that you are interested in makes it easier for you to perform in front of a crowd.”

Sophomore and this year’s first place winner, Shriya Tummala was inspired by her friends to compete in Poetry Out Loud this year. She wanted to try something different, and is excited about how it worked out. 

“It’s like a role that you put yourself into. The poems help you to see different stories through others perspectives,” Tummala said. 

She believes that her persistent eye contact and variation of tones made the judges interested in her. Tummala emphasizes the importance of engaging with the audience and having the mindset as a performer rather than a presenter.

However, she explains that not only is the audience important to consider, but also the poem itself. “I wanted to find a poem that I could relate to in my own life. I didn’t want to reenact someone else’s story,” she added. 

In the end, there is one thing Jenkins wants contestants to keep in mind: “Be yourself. Don’t be too nervous because in reality, everyone in the crowd is going through the same thing.”

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  • R

    Ryan YoungFeb 6, 2024 at 2:06 pm

    Remarkable! What a fabulous piece, Jane.

  • A

    AleksiaFeb 2, 2024 at 3:15 pm

    So informative!! Well done 🙂